New Delhi: "We are looking forward to a productive, constructive session of parliament. That's what our country's people expect, " the Prime Minister said today, urging the opposition to participate in "responsible dialogue and debate" during the new budget session, that begins today.
The government will on February 28 present what many expect will be an austerity budget outlining its plans for expenditure for the next year.
The PM stressed the need for "credible action to ensure we are least affected by global slowdown."
India is struggling to avert a ratings downgrade of its sovereign debt to junk status. Other key bills slated for the session include measures to hike foreign investment in insurance, open the pension sector to overseas investors and the Food Security Bill, which seeks to deliver subsidised grain to millions of poor families. (Watch: President's address to Parliament)
Last night, the government brokered peace with the main opposition party, the BJP, with Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde formally voicing regret for comments made a month ago about "saffron terror." His remarks that the BJP and its parent body, the RSS, promote terror at their training camps had outraged the opposition, which said it would disrupt parliament unless the minister offered an apology. (Read)
While a compromise has been reached over that controversy, the government will face heat over high prices and alleged corruption in a deal to buy 12 helicopters from AgustaWestland (AW), based in Britain but owned by Italian defence giant Finmecannica.
The opposition has seized the accusations of kickbacks, made by Italian investigators, to attack the government of endemic graft, an issue which it will highlight in the next few months leading to the national elections scheduled for next year. (Watch: Rajnath Singh speaks to NDTV on the budget session)
India has threatened to cancel the helicopter deal and has sent a CBI team to Italy to uncover more details. The opposition says it wants a Joint Parliamentary Committee to study the scandal.